Internet at €19/month: Belgium to introduce new social rate from 2024

Internet at €19/month: Belgium to introduce new social rate from 2024
Student Kot at Brussels' VUB university. Credit: Belga / Herwig Vergult

More than half a million households will be able to apply for a social internet rate from 2024, meaning that an internet subscription will cost them a maximum of €19 per month, announced Federal Telecom Minister Petra De Sutter on Tuesday.

The idea of a social telecom tariff is not new: for over 30 years, people entitled to a social rate could get an €11.5 discount on their telecom subscription. But they did not automatically receive a message that they were entitled to that rate.

"The current social rate is now overshooting its target. It is used by barely 200,000 Belgian residents and it does not automatically lead people to the cheapest subscription," De Sutter said on Flemish radio. "I want to make sure that far fewer people miss out on their right to help. Not being able to afford the internet leads to social exclusion."

From 2024, the new social telecom rate will include 150GB of data and a speed of at least 30Mbps. For a better package, people will have to pay extra. For a combination package of internet and digital television, the maximum price is €40.

Tweet translation: "The current social tariff for telecom has existed since 1989 and is completely outdated. Only 200,000 Belgians use it. About 10% of Belgians do not have internet, often for financial reasons. We have an agreement for a new social internet subscription."

The social rate applies to people who are also eligible for the social energy rate. "It concerns the classic target group, and not the extended target group for which social tariff for energy is possible," said De Sutter. The system is based on income, meaning it is automated, and more than half a million households are entitled to it.

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"If you are entitled to the new social telecom tariff, you will automatically receive a letter at the beginning of 2024," said De Sutter. "You can take that to the point of sale of an operator of your choice and have your existing subscription converted to a subscription of a maximum of €19/month. The operator can check with a simple mouse click whether people are entitled to the social rate. The subscription can then immediately be started up."

Additionally, those currently on the old social rate system can continue to use it as long as they do not change telecom operator, De Sutter stressed.

"There is an agreement with the operators to keep the existing social contracts and have them continue with the same operator with the same subscription formula. So people who already have a social rate do not have to worry."

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